Friday, February 4, 2011

Balancing Happiness Over Painting

A painter friend, thinking about her next career moves, just wrote me this morning saying,

“I thought about what my priorities were, and decided that now is not the right time for really pushing for sales. I am at a really happy place for developing my art and style, accumulating inventory, and enjoying a good balance between work, family, and me time. Does that sound not very ambitious? It is kind of silly, but I am really loving my life right now, so I thought I just keep things going a bit until something is nagging at me to do otherwise. What do you think?”

Impressed by her honesty and boldness I replied, “I do not think of you as unambitious, in fact quite the opposite. Your decisions are right on regarding timing. I don't know if you remember, but I have taken this entire year of 2011 for a sabbatical. I tell everyone it’s to paint, but actually its more about finding a new balance in my life. This month I have discovered new ways to be happy, and relax, and have not painted much. Making great work is always a self-reflection. If we are not happy, or are bored, this is what the painting will reveal, no matter what subject matter we paint, what materials we use, and how technically proficient we are. Painting is a mirror of our soul. And good painting allows the viewer to go deeper into a higher vibration. Loving life, as you put it, is the priority for everything, especially great art. So....we are on the same track and I applaud you for not only doing what you feel is right, but admitting your choices in a society that usually encourages production over happiness.”

So, what do you think?



Blogger Joanna Lee said...

I agree. As artists we need our space to relax and allow the creative juices in our brains be free to explore. Some of my best art comes when I'm not trying, but just enjoying the process.

I also agree that happiness should be a larger part of our lives than productivity.

February 4, 2011 at 11:55 AM  
Blogger Steve Emery said...

I agree with this - the need to take time away. I left a co-op gallery I had helped to found and have taken the last several years to just let my paintings happen without the pressure of sales. Some sell from my website, and that's actually been more profitable (per painting) - but the point is that I'm not worrying about the prospective audience or buyer while I paint. No one looking over my shoulder and the inner critic has become quieter, easier to ignore. That's enabled me to move deeper into that emotional and aesthetic place you mentioned. I'm pursuing memories and relationships through images I didn't know were in here.

And I can tell I'm still at the beginning. Someday I'll get back to the gallery scene - and I'll have a solid foundation in my inner world, as well as a great inventory to launch. But not soon.

February 5, 2011 at 7:44 PM  
Blogger Jim Springett said...

After a super busy year in 2010, now that we are in 2011,I'm not pushing to paint and sell immediately. By selling most of my inventory last year I do not have a physical inventory to use in a portfolio, or to have a solo show of my better paintings. This year I have been experimenting a lot more, buying teaching DVD's and attending workshops, all helping me to grow and get to a deeper level and enjoying the learning process a lot more, keeping it easy, and enjoying what I am doing is a key to beautiful art. I learned about painting the canvas using acrylic medium and gel, and along with a coating just before this step, the optical properties are very unique, making for paintings with greater luminosity and depth.Thank you for the suggestion, and is working to help me make such beautiful paintings.

Jimmy Springett-artist

February 7, 2011 at 4:46 PM  
Anonymous Brian Benham said...

I can relate to this post. I have 2 kids and a full time job, and I have gone back to school. All this comes before my art. But When I do have time to sit down in the shop and start a new piece I do my best work after I have had some quite time to reflect

February 8, 2011 at 10:38 PM  
Blogger art2heal said...

I think for me, when I fail to take time to relax and assess, chaos creeps into my life and my work. Then the harder I try, unless I embrace and acknowledge the mess I've got myself into, the less authentic my art becomes. From there it's a downward spiral.

February 14, 2011 at 4:58 PM  
Blogger Egretta Wells blog said...

There are many reasons an artist must take time out from the stress of selling and showing. The best one is that sometimes our work suffers in light of creating for the "sale", and not creating only what we want to create. Being an older artist, I am finished with the show circuit, galleries, etc. I put my paintings on my blogspot only and if they sell I am fine, if not I don't worry about it. In fact, they are my "babies" and I really hate to see them go! How wonderful to be free to create when and what I want!!

February 20, 2011 at 11:46 AM  
Anonymous Daniel Edmondson said...

Great post, I have struggled with balance of creating art and selling art and I finally had to say just create and the sales will come and I am now in a more peaceful relaxed place..Thank you

February 27, 2011 at 11:51 AM  
Anonymous Janet Keen said...

Great posts, I am doing the same this year and immersing myself in art journaling and learning new techniques, rather tahn producing paintings or mosaics to sell.
I am also exhibiting Photography in different venues but have really decided to not be too obsessed about sales.
I have bought Nancys Acrylic Revolution Book and it's fantastic.

Regards Janet Keen

March 8, 2011 at 8:35 PM  
Blogger Lyne Marshall said...

Nancy you have an amazing blog and stepping back is an interesting topic. If creativity is about inspiration and working from a unconscious level, rather like a child, then you need to know who you are in your art. That takes time, so time off is good. I love creative spirit and write about it on my blog and in my books. Kind Regards Lyne

March 10, 2011 at 2:06 PM  
Blogger Sandy Delehanty said...

Hi Nancy,

Elliott Fouts, owner of the gallery that shows my work in Sacramento once told me "I will never tell you what to paint, because artists paint their best work when they are enthusiastic about what they are doing." He is right of course. And yes, I think we also do our best work when we are happy and enjoying life.

I am doing the same thing as you and your friend, I stopped teaching the local classes, just the occassional workshop so I can concentrate on painting. I am working on two very different series, portaits of single blossoms in oil, and paintings of people from my photos taken on my travels around the world in watercolor. Having great fun with both series and my critique group loves what I am doing too, so must be on the right track. Happy Painting, Sandy

March 10, 2011 at 2:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally agree and really enjoyed this post, that I had to link to it from my blog :) hope you don't mind.


March 14, 2011 at 5:35 PM  
Blogger Mayajoy said...

I was just thinking about this the other day, about creating work that you know will sell versus work that you like doing, that comes out on its own without the boundaries. And then I read in this book The Artist's Way, it's given me a lot of things to write about on my blog ( if you're interested) but it was talking about that inner critic, always judging our work, who always looks at our audience to influence the art we create. And I feel we have to quiet that inner critic, get in touch with our creativity and when we make authentic art, it may not be mainstream, but authenticity will attract authentic people. I've felt the same way, wanting to build a strong inner foundation that doesn't sway with the influences of productivity etc, and I've really benefited from this book, there's a lot of great exercises in it and it might help others if they want to learn to return back to the inner vibration of creativity. I am enjoying your blog a lot, thank you!

November 23, 2011 at 2:53 AM  
Anonymous Kenneth Gibbons LLC said...

Agreed artists need space to relax and allow the creative juices in our brains be free to explore. Some of my best art comes when I'm the most relaxed and my brain can wonder with thoughts.

Kenneth Gibbons LLC

January 1, 2012 at 5:41 PM  
Blogger Meredith M Howard said...

You can see the result of rushing my art this morning on my blog. It didn't turn out well. I really wanted to sew, but didn't have the right supplies. So, I did something I wasn't inspired to do. I then realized that I have to wait for the inspiration. You can't push it. The good news is that I have been inspired by my mistake and have a new direction for my canvas.

- Meredith

May 22, 2012 at 1:57 PM  

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